Jump to content

A sestertius of Julia Mamaea misidentified as Julia Maesa


Sol_Invictus
 Share

Recommended Posts

I purchased the coin below at a show from a dealer who I had read is very well-regarded. Their inventory at the show was pretty much all high-end stuff, with this being, by several hundred dollars, the cheapest item they had available.  I had a great conversation with them, and they clearly knew a lot about all of their coins!  This coin was tagged as being a sestertius of Julia Maesa, and being new to the hobby, I assumed that was correct.  The dealer even told me a little about Maesa's life, and told me that her sesterces are not that common. However, when I got home and tried to find a RIC number for it I was surprised to see that this is clearly Julia Mamaea, not Maesa. Indeed, if I had been a little more careful and read the inscription before I bought it, I would have seen that it clearly states "IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA" on the obverse (the legend is clearer in hand than in the image below).  I'm happy with the Mamaea sestertius, and had no specific goal of getting Maesa, so I'm not disappointed. I suppose the price was probably a bit high for Mamaea in this condition (it looked a bit on the low side for Maesa compared to listings on vcoins), but I don't think it's worth trying to return it. My lesson, though, is to carefully inspect and look up any coins before buying them in person.

 

JuliaMamaea_Sestertius.jpg.f8ac7190cd587a406eb3b32d775bd7ac.jpg

Julia Mamaea, Sestertius, 222-235 CE, 30 mm, ~20 g, 12h; Obv: Bust, diademed, draped, right. IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA. Rev: Felicitas, draped, seated left, holding caduceus in right hand and cornucopia in left hand. FELICITAS PVBLICA S C.; Ric IV Severus Alexander 679

 

Please share any Julia Mamaea or Julia Maesa coins, or any coins you have that turned out to be something other than what you thought they were when you bought them.

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice 60 buck coin...

Glad you weren't actually fixed on a Maesa type as that would've been sad...Maybe research before you buy as you stated would help but also check out the current going rate in this condition, then you aren't buying blindly?. As is you've got yourself a decent looking coin but did/does have some (treated bd) corrosion on the reverse but the details are quite nice.

The only Mamaea I have is this Denarius..I would like to pick up a big bronze of hers though...

normal_1-20190803_1-5GzYPg79b7RZWBq6s98E3mKXkNM24o.jpg.8484454d3f8a40e18f2d88172ab5b2e6.jpg

Julia Mamaea. Augusta, 222-235 AD. AR Denarius (2,81 gm, 19mm). Rome mint. Struck 222 AD.
Obverse: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, bare headed, draped bust right.
Reverse: IVNO CONS-E-RVATRIX, Juno standing slightly left, holding patera and scepter; to left, peacock standing left.
RIC IV 343 (Severus Alexander); BMCRRE 43-5 (Severus Alexander); RSC 35. gVF.

Edited by Spaniard
  • Like 9
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Sol_Invictus said:

I purchased the coin below at a show from a dealer who I had read is very well-regarded. Their inventory at the show was pretty much all high-end stuff, with this being, by several hundred dollars, the cheapest item they had available.  I had a great conversation with them, and they clearly knew a lot about all of their coins!  This coin was tagged as being a sestertius of Julia Maesa, and being new to the hobby, I assumed that was correct.  The dealer even told me a little about Maesa's life, and told me that her sesterces are not that common. However, when I got home and tried to find a RIC number for it I was surprised to see that this is clearly Julia Mamaea, not Maesa. Indeed, if I had been a little more careful and read the inscription before I bought it, I would have seen that it clearly states "IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA" on the obverse (the legend is clearer in hand than in the image below).  I'm happy with the Mamaea sestertius, and had no specific goal of getting Maesa, so I'm not disappointed. I suppose the price was probably a bit high for Mamaea in this condition (it looked a bit on the low side for Maesa compared to listings on vcoins), but I don't think it's worth trying to return it. My lesson, though, is to carefully inspect and look up any coins before buying them in person.

 

JuliaMamaea_Sestertius.jpg.f8ac7190cd587a406eb3b32d775bd7ac.jpg

Julia Mamaea, Sestertius, 222-235 CE, 30 mm, ~20 g, 12h; Obv: Bust, diademed, draped, right. IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA. Rev: Felicitas, draped, seated left, holding caduceus in right hand and cornucopia in left hand. FELICITAS PVBLICA S C.; Ric IV Severus Alexander 679

 

Please share any Julia Mamaea or Julia Maesa coins, or any coins you have that turned out to be something other than what you thought they were when you bought them.

Sol_., You grossly overpaid for that coin if it cost you several hundred dollars ☹️. Aside from having a large crack it's been poorly cleaned. The value of that coin is in the $50-75 range tops. Why don't you try for a refund, after all the coin was misattributed 😉. Pictured below is a sestertius of Julia Mamaea from my collection. 799430206_JuliaMamaeaFelicitasSestertiusAWK.jpg.803db4ed1b0f00db87998820ab21c786.jpg

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Sol_Invictus said:

Please share any Julia Mamaea or Julia Maesa coins, or any coins you have that turned out to be something other than what you thought they were when you bought them.

image.jpeg.fc523734b7a11f43263d9a0c534b1003.jpeg

Iulia Avita Mamaea
Sestertius of the Roman Imperial period 222 AD
Material: AE
Diameter: 30mm
Weight: 22.56g
Mint: Rome
Reference: RIC IV Severus Alexander 694
 
Obverse:
You can see the draped bust of Iulia Avita Mamaea with a diadem facing right. The inscription reads: IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA for Iulia Mamaea Augusta.
 
Reverse:
You can see Venus standing and facing right. In her right hand she holds a scepter, in her left hand Cupid (Amor). The inscription reads VENERI FELICI S C for Venus (noun) the happy, auspicious and successful – by decree of the Senate (Senatus Consulto).
  • Like 8
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those are some absolutely lovely coins you all have, thanks for sharing!
 

I paid about $100 for the coin that I showed, so it was too much, but I don’t feel like it’s worth the effort to try to return it. It’s a good reminder to me to be more careful and do more research before buying coins in the future. 
 

My impression is that for a given coin the highest price for it will be at a coin show or a physical store, a bit less expensive on vcoins or similar, and then usually cheapest at auction. Is that what other more experienced collectors find to be the case as well?

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the board, @Sol_Invictus! Everyone should have a sestertius in their collection. I like how thick and heavy they are in hand!

I always thought that Julia Mamaea unfortunately looked more than a little like Pete Townshend.

JuliaMamaea.jpg

Drawing by Jasper Burns

I went on a Mamaea bender a few years back and acquired almost every denarius and sestertius issued for her (the middle bronzes are much more challenging). Here's my FELICITAS PVBLICA seated sestertius.

1265820891_MamaeaFELICITASPVBLICAseatedSestertius.jpg.e682f62440df92f819b13b2841ddbb3e.jpg

  • Like 9
  • Laugh 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

I like how thick and heavy they are in hand!

I totally agree!  I only have five large ( >~ 30 mm) bronze coins so far, but they are my favorite. They're just so nice to hold!

 

46 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

I always thought that Julia Mamaea unfortunately looked more than a little like Pete Townshend.

 

Hah!  That hadn't occurred to me, but indeed there is a resemblance! 

 

46 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

I went on a Mamaea bender a few years back and acquired almost every denarius and sestertius issued for her (the middle bronzes are much more challenging). Here's my FELICITAS PVBLICA seated sestertius.

 

Wow, that must be wonderful to see them all laid out together! Great coin too, I like the patina. Thanks for sharing!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a Mamaea sestertius that might not win any beauty contests but for a price of 20 euros including fees I have no complaints

image.png.f5a578c906080059260db2c0ad4040d7.png

Sestertius Æ
30 mm, 19,80 g
Obv: IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, bust of Julia Mamaea, diademed, draped, right  / VENERI FELICI SC, Venus, draped, standing right, holding sceptre in right hand and Cupid in left hand
RIC IV Severus Alexander 694; RCV II 8232; BMCRE 190

Maesa - only denarii

image.png.bfc5fd56573fa86da36c3d4253bf55d4.png

image.png.999f6bf358f66293d609ec2f9cadb099.png

 

----------------------------------------------
Now in regards to what happened, I would suspect the dealer is not guilty (on purpose), probably they incorrectly attributed the coin and kept wrong notes. I don't know what I would do in your position. In my personal opinion, the price you paid is high. For that price, you can probably get a nicer Mamaea sestertius. It is your decision - if you like the coin and you feel that returning it does not justify the effort/time, then keep it.

I had 2 cases where the attribution was wrong and I noticed after paying (and in the denarius case, another collector corrected pointed the mistake)

image.png.f75dd19bab1b7592480f5a5896b72988.png

Volusian sestertius attributed by the auction house to Trebonianus Gallus. This house only provides short descriptions (denomination, emperor, size, weight) so when trying to fully attribute the coin I noticed the visible obverse legend cannot be Trebonianus Gallus. I notified the house as a heads up, they offered the possibility of a return but I decided to keep the coin.

 

image.png.7a1978e91f9e0935555a14be79ba4810.png

This is from another house that very often provides incorrect attributions and my impression is that the descriptor does this activity in a hurry (first result from searches - copy/paste).

Original attribution

Geta 198-212 AD, as Caesar, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, ca. 200-202 AD.
Obv: P SEPT GETA CAES PONT, bare, draped and cuirassed bust of Geta, seen from behind, right
Rev: PRINC IVVENTVTIS, Geta in military dress standing left, holding baton and sceptre, to the right trophy
RIC IV 18 C
3.01 gr. 18 mm

I wanted a very young Geta and I was happy to get this (small flan but nice portrait). But as I said, another collector noticed the N on the obverse (10-11 o clock)... that is not found on a Geta legend. So the actual legend is M AVR ANTON CAES PONTIF ... a Caracalla similar coin 😐

Another one from the same auction (they often make mistakes, some pretty severe, some more subtle but still bad, such as a draped/laureate bust described incorrectly, this changes the attribution)

image.png.77a63ad7b80231f524fb8c6768e91d5d.png

Caracalla (as Caesar, 196-198) AR denarius. Rome
M AVR ANTON CAES PONTIF - bareheaded and draped bust right
Rev: DESTINATO IMPERAT - Implements of the priesthood: lituus, apex, bucranium, and simpulum.
RIC IV.1 6 note. RSC 53.
2,96 gr, 18 mm

Most likely the descriptor searched for "Caracalla pontifical" or something similar and quickly pasted the first results. But I find this very superficial....  a bucranium would have been pretty visible and also the obverse legends ends in CAES .... so correct description is 

Caracalla (as Caesar, 196-198) AR denarius. Rome. Dated 196
M AVR ANTONINVS CAES - bareheaded and draped bust right
Rev: SEVERI AVG PII FIL - Implements of the priesthood: Lituus, axe, jug, simpulum and sprinkler

RIC IV Caracalla 4.  

I noticed this before and still bought the coin, but this made me wonder how often do houses make this type of mistakes.

Lesson I learned - I always attribute the coins myself and use the "official" attributions only as an initial guidance. I keep all my coins fully attributed and I try to make sure the descriptions/catalogue references are correct. So when I prepare my wish list for an auction, I always research the coins (especially after the 2 situations with the denarii I wrote about). I check as properly as I can and I am not impressed by terms such as  "extremely rare" "2nd known example" or "unpublished" as I found a few situations where these were mistakes. Probably not intentional, but if I have the chance to check myself, why not.
I also buy from impulse, sometimes - I am in an auction and I have a few targets, I checked the list before, but I see a coin I decide I might want, but I only notice it when the lot is live. Of course there is no time to research it but usually those are cheap coins so there is no danger to overpay.

--------------------------------------

6 hours ago, Sol_Invictus said:

My impression is that for a given coin the highest price for it will be at a coin show or a physical store, a bit less expensive on vcoins or similar, and then usually cheapest at auction. Is that what other more experienced collectors find to be the case as well?

This is also what I noticed. But there are 2 main risks in auctions 1. Fees. We look at the current bid, hit the button, again, again, we win it. Cool. But keep in mind, that is not the actual price of the coin. And if a coin is expensive, a 20% fee raises the price. 2. Bidding wars. You might be dragged into one, you initially say you would pay 70-80 euros for a coin but after blinking a few times you win it. With 150. Plus fees. Although sometimes I regret, I usually keep my initial strategy - if I say I want to pay 80 EUR on a coin, this is my maximum bid. Not 85. Not 100. Hitting the button is easy... knowing if and when to stop is a different story.

Edited by ambr0zie
  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here a IVLIA MAESA, showing her age

juliamaesa.jpg.b25516418ad9b4cd1d14e0000ff67818.jpg

Obverse : IVLIA MAESA , bust draped right

Reverse : SAECULI FE  LICITAS , Felicitas standing left, holding long caduceus and sacrifacing  over lighted altar ; in right field : star

RIC IV b : 127

  • Like 11
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would suggest emailing the dealer (perhaps linking this thread) and requesting a partial refund. I expect they’d be happy to do this. Little hassle, you get to keep the coin, and the dealer’s mistake gets corrected. (I doubt that coin would hammer for more than 30 bucks at a cut price auction house.)

Here’s a Maesa, possibly issued under Severus Alexander rather than Elagabalus:

image.jpeg.43edf077afbbe2a2576bb673031e0e05.jpeg

  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor
17 hours ago, Sol_Invictus said:

My impression is that for a given coin the highest price for it will be at a coin show or a physical store, a bit less expensive on vcoins or similar, and then usually cheapest at auction. Is that what other more experienced collectors find to be the case as well?

 

I disagree slightly: if you buy a coin in person from a VCoins dealer at a coin show, and ask if the dealer can give you a discount, you are extremely likely to pay less than you would if you bought the same coin from the same dealer online through VCoins. Especially if you're able to pay cash! Also, coins bought at auction aren't necessarily cheaper than equivalent coins bought at retail from a dealer, once you factor in the buyer's premium. Particularly if the coin you want has been in the retail dealer's inventory for some time, and the dealer hasn't raised the price to match current auction trends.

Edited by DonnaML
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@ambr0zie - thanks for sharing your coins!  I like the dark toning on the first Maesa denarius. It looks very nice to me. That's too bad about the Geta vs Caracalla confusion. It's a nice looking coin, but I would have been disappointed too if I had been going for a Geta. Good points regarding the auction fees and avoiding getting into a bidding war. I haven't participated in many auctions yet myself (mostly just pre-bids that I end up losing, but I have had a few minor successes so far that way), so the tips!

@mc9 - wow - Maesa's face is very striking on your coin!

@Severus Alexander - thanks, that's a great suggestion!  It's been several months since I bought the coin, so the window may have already passed, but I might give it a try. Great looking denarius as well!

@DonnaML - thanks, those are good points to keep in mind!  I have noticed that dealers in person are usually willing to lower the price, especially when paying cash, but I haven't been to enough shows yet to meet a vcoins dealer who is selling a coin both in person and online.  Good point also about older coins that have been sitting on the shelf for a while being cheaper compared to the going rate.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I only have one of each in AE but had a fondness for Maesa denarii from the Eastern mint (Antioch?) due to their interesting style.  I always was a sucker for branch mint coins.  While Juno is most common, I found it interesting that they struck a Fecunditas for a grandmother. My only Mamaea attracted my attention by being an unusual die clash where the damage was on the obverse rather than the reverse.  I suspect that the reverse die involved in the clash was destroyed in the incident and was replaced by a new reverse die of the same type that struck this coin.  I suppose it is also possible that this coin was struck with the obverse on top making the portrait die more susceptible to damage in a clash.  I have no real way of knowing such details.  

 

rn0225bb3094.jpg

rn0370bb0410.jpg

rn0200bb1689.jpg

rn0210bb2003.jpg

rn0220bb2032.jpg

rn0365fd0892.jpg

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, dougsmit said:

My only Mamaea attracted my attention by being an unusual die clash where the damage was on the obverse rather than the reverse.

Interesting! I haven’t seen a die clash coin before. I gather that the feature that indicates the clash is the impression in the field just to the right of the bust?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...